“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” (James 1:23–24, AV)
In 1812, the Brothers Grimm wrote a fairy tale titled, “Snow White.” In the story there was evil queen who had a magic mirror that would speak the truth to her. She would often ask it, “Mirror-mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all?” To that the mirror would always reply, “My Queen, you are the fairest in the land.” That was until a young lady named Snow White came of age where she surpassed the beauty of the queen. Then when the queen asked, it replied, “You are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.” Of course, the queen was incensed by reply and sought to end Snow White’s life.
In my opinion, mirrors are things that present an often-sad reality to us. This is because they reveal the truth about our external appearance. One day, I woke up and looked in the mirror and realized my beard started to look like an unkempt billy-goat. I did not like it but it was the undeniable truth. The mirror revealed it. So, I decided to trim it. After the trim the mirror revealed a better look. Basically, the mirror reveals the truth.
James tells us that the word of God, “the perfect law of liberty,” is like a mirror. When we read it, it will reveal the truth to us. Moreover, it will reveal the truth about us, that is the internal and unseen condition of our hearts. In the heart of man lurks all sorts of evil. Jesus stated, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:19–20, AV).
The word of God will reveal to us the condition of our heart. It can reveal beauty or ugliness. The writer of Hebrews explains, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, AV).
Yet, the bigger issue wit the mirror of God’s word is what we are going to do with what we see. There are but two choices. We can walk away and do nothing, which means in essence, that we have forgotten what we saw. However, in many cases, we might actually refuse to believe what we saw. The second option is that we respond by faith to that which we see. It can mean a variety of things. When it reveals the ugliness of our lives, we should respond with confession and repentance. When it reveals a command or an example to follow, we must respond by obedience.
However, there is yet one more major issue. That is this. In order to see the truth, we must look into the mirror. If we are not looking, we will not discover the truth. The problem then is that our lives may look like we are an old-obstinate billy goat because of an internal issue of our heart.
It behooves us to seriously open up God’s word on a frequent basis and consider what we see. We should enter this time of study with a prayer. Rather than “Mirror-mirror on the wall,” we should be asking, “Lord-God, reveal the truth to me from Your word and show me the righteous way that I might by Your grace, follow.” James tells us that when we do, we will be blessed by our obedience (v25).